Sunday 18 September 2016

The Ice In My House

Can you image life without a refrigerator and freezer? What would we do without our Costco size rack of ribs? Well, since the refrigerator didn’t come around until the 1930s, what did people do?  Some relief came in the mid 1800s when a little invention called the icebox made its appearance. 

Iceboxes had hollow walls lined with zinc or tin.  Just as some houses used to be insulated with seawood, so did these iceboxes.  It could also be insulated with sawdust, cork, or straw.  A large block of ice was placed in a tray located in the top compartment of the icebox.  Since cool air descends, the cold air from the ice would glide down the sides of the ice box to keep veggies, fruit, meat, and milk cool on the hot summer days.  Ice was cut from rivers and stored in ice houses and the Ice Man would make door-to-door deliveries of blocks of ice.
The icebox was a great invention and it revolutionized the way we now store food.   In fact, some researchers believe it had a direct contribution to lower infant mortality rates during the summer months.  Some ice boxes were quite fancy and made an attractive addition to the family’s furniture.
Now you know why some people today still call the fridge the “ice box.”  If you remember the ice box, or remember hearing stories about them, we’d love to have you comment on this piece!


  1. I am so glad I live in an age with fridges! This would have been a great improvement from nothing, but still a lot of work.

  2. We had an ice box at 179 Adelaide St., Saint John, North End back in 1945. The ice truck would deliver a block of ice for all the ice boxes on our street. We could have ice slivers from the back of the truck and wrapped them in newspaper. A real treat in summer. I don't remember winter deliveries.